05/06/2019, 11.40
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Cyclone Fani devastates India and Bangladesh. Caritas: Dramatic hygienic conditions

The tropical storm has destroyed at least 10 thousand villages in India and 1,000 homes in Bangladesh. The churches of Bhubhaneswar and the archbishop's see are also damaged. The Catholic association is assisting the displaced.

New Delhi (AsiaNews) - At least 12 people have died, 10,000 villages are under water in 52 urban areas, 1.2 million people have been evacuated in 6,564 collection camps, ancient trees uprooted, houses destroyed, in India churches damaged; six inhabitants killed, 1,000 homes destroyed in Bangladesh.

This is  the toll of destruction of the cyclone Fani that on the weekend touched the coasts of Orissa and West Bengal in India and of Chittagong in Bangladesh. The numbers come from Fr. Paul Moonjely, executive director of Caritas India, who reports to AsiaNews: "Cyclone Fani has caused mass destruction. Caritas immediately activated the relief and emergency operations, helping the population to leave their homes ”.

The 200 km / h winds of the tropical storm reached the east coast of India at 8.10 am on May 3rd. Now that the cyclone has left the country, the damage is being assessed: thousands of uprooted trees, uprooted electricity poles, interrupted power lines, lack of connections in different areas. The areas most affected were those of Puri, Khurdha, Jagatsingpur, Bhubaneswar and Vadrak.

In Bhubaneswar the storm also damaged several churches, including the church of St. Vincent and the archbishop's residence. Fr. Dibya Parichha, secretary of the Justice and Peace Commission of the archdiocese, reports that "the telephone and internet connections are interrupted. A large mango tree has been uprooted, the chapel windows are shattered. The roof of the service center flew away ".

Today the authorities declare that the human balance of the natural disaster would have been much more serious if they had not secured more than one million inhabitants. In its passage towards the coast of Bangladesh cyclone Fani has been downgraded from "tropical storm" to "depression", the losses have been huge, especially for the fishing communities.

Fr. Moonjely points out that "several groups of volunteers have helped to spread the alert, coordinate relief efforts, keep in touch with hospitals to have the wounded admitted. In Puri, Caritas has evacuated at least 10 thousand people, and our volunteers are still in four camps with displaced people. The college in Penthakata,  has been transformed into a reception center for 500 families ".

According to the priest, the most critical conditions are "those of children and the elderly. There is not enough food and drinking water in the shelters. Due to the interruption of transport and flooded roads, there is no way to get the rescue equipment to the evacuated families. Furthermore the absence of chemical toilets is causing problems with hygienic conditions ”.

The Catholic association, together with local partners, distributed basic necessities and personal hygiene kits to 2,000 families. It is currently considering how to bring relief to another 2,000 families. "From our field workers - concludes Fr. Moojely - we receive requests for food, drinking water and cots. The sanitary conditions are dramatic ”.


(Nirmala Carvalho collaborated)

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